Starting your child early with chores and responsibilities is a lot of work at first but as soon as they get it and can do it on their own it is so worth it for you and for them. No one likes to do chores, but teaching them how to do things for themselves builds confidence and honestly gives them a better shot at life. Here is a list of chores for kids by age that I have found work based on my experience as an IMperfect mom.
Remember that each child is different. Each has a special set of skills that is your job to find and appreciate for what their natural talents and passions are. My oldest has always been able to see things and organize them very very well, my second baby likes to just get it done and move on to something else, my third can make it look like a tornado hit in less time than it took for you to go to the bathroom, but she can take something apart and put it back together just as fast, my little one can categorize items and wants everything in it’s place.
Age 1 (yes start them this early, about 18 months)
Start by handing her a toy and showing her exactly where to put it. She will understand more and more especially if you put similar toys away in the same spot each time. Having a place for everything and keeping it the same will help her learn faster. Show her how proud you are of that accomplishment, every time! You will clean up a hundred toys and she will probably clean up 3 and they get all the credit. That’s how it goes.
In the kitchen
Give her her own empty bowl and spoon to help mom with dinner. She generally gets bored after a minute and moves on but you thank her for helping anyway.
Start to categorize the toys to clean up. “Clean up all your shoes and put them where they belong” “Clean up all the toys that are blue and put them in the toy box” We put toys from the living room into a laundry basket and then one lucky child gets to push the laundry basket into the bedroom. I sit at the laundry basket and pull out one toy at a time and they get to put the toy in it’s place. You will clean up about 70% of the toys and they will get all the credit.
In the kitchen
He can stir basic ingredients together. Don’t give him anything like raw meat or egg that could make him sick because you know his helping hands are going straight into his mouth!
He can help in just about any way at this age. If he is interested in helping, take him along. It’s a great learning experience for him. For example, you are turning the sprinklers on for the first time this season, You obviously can see if they are working, but you take your two year old to the yard and say, “are the sprinklers spraying water?” “Thank you so much for helping me turn on the sprinklers.” You are teaching him what sprinklers are, when something is on versus off (opposites book anyone?) and that he can be helpful.
If you have a light vacuum he can start this “chore” He will figure out pretty quickly that when he puts the vacuum over the mess, it disappears. My 2 year old loves this chore and he is doing well enough that I don’t worry about where he didn’t get every day. I just touch it up when I get around to it.
He can sweep up messes with your help as well. Maybe have him hold the dust pan
He can help feed the animals. Give him the scoop of dog food and have him put it in the dog bowl. Who cares if it doesn’t all get in the bowl? Your dog certainly wont!
He is able to “wipe” a counter, mirror or bathtub. Give him a rag and some natural cleaner (ask me how to sign up for an exclusive membership) or just water and let them wipe just about anything they want.
He can help put the laundry into the washer or dryer and “fold” washcloths or underwear. Something that really doesn’t need to be folded.
At this age she should understand a lot! She enjoys helping and can do so in many different ways so long as you include her so she learns what it is she is supposed to be doing.
She can clean up her toys by herself so long as it is not too overwhelming. What I like to do is put all (3-5) the toys in one spot on the floor and tell my child to put “all” her toys in the laundry basket then we go to the bedroom and put them back where they belong. It works out well and the pile can grow as she gets better at this task.
In the Kitchen
She can certainly start mixing and measuring ingredients with supervision at this age. She wont do it well, but with your guidance, she will get better.
She can start dusting, just make sure you specify where you want her to dust and it’s not around anything breakable.
She can help take the trash out. By the time my son was 4, he was taking the trash out by himself. Lifting it over his head to put it in the big trash cans and everything.
Give her dishtowels and show her how to fold. Give her a few socks for her to match. She can also put simple things away, like the kitchen or hand towels, and even some of her clothes. My third child was able to fold the socks at this age but the other 3 needed a little more time to get the technique down.
This age is great, you will see his little mind just explode with knowledge to match his minor and major motor skills. He will ask you if he can do certain things to help, let him! He will surprise you.
This age will do well completing a chore chart with pictures.
He should be starting to clean up more than you, yay! He should also learn to clean up what he is finished with if you have not taught this lesson yet. He should be able to clean his room at this point with minimal supervision.
In the kitchen
He should be able to crack an egg (just make sure it is into a smaller bowl so you can fish out the shells) he can “help” with an electric mixer. He can be closer to the stove now and probably be able to flip things like pancakes or stir noodles. He can put bread into the toaster and butter the toast. He should start making his own sandwiches, getting his own snacks and cutting things that don’t take too much skill. They are pretty much chefs without the hot appliances at this age.
He can do dishes now too. Let him wear gloves and “wash” the dishes by hand or put them in the dishwasher. My girls liked to hand wash at this age, the dishwasher isn’t as exciting as bubbles and a sponge. hehe
He should be getting better at everything. Show him the space where the wall meets the floor when he is vacuuming and tell him that is where most of the crumbs collect. He could start to help you mop as well just make sure you help with the water!
He can feed the animals by himself. He knows how many scoops for the dog food or how many shakes the fish need.
He can strip his bed for laundry day make his bed daily. It wont be perfect, but you can situate as you put him to bed at night.
He can spray (natural cleaner) and wipe to clean the counter and mirror. I personally don’t like them doing the toilet (for germ reasons) or the tub (because of their lack of ability to reach the other side).
He should be able to put his clothes away. He can probably fold socks or get close to folding socks.
Give her more of everything. Let her take the trash out by herself! Let her clean her room and run the vacuum! Let her fold her own clothes and put them away! She is officially responsible for her chores now, all you should be doing is reminding her that it’s time to do her chore chart or asking her for help with whatever you are working on.
Celebrate their little accomplishments
Thank them for their help
Congratulations you are molding a productive citizen
Peace and Balance,